My first couple of cycling jerseys were made by Giordana. They were, relative to the 1980s, pretty hi-tech affairs, which is to say 4-inch zippered, three-pocket, sublimated designs on polyester fabric.
As my knowledge of cycling clothing increased, so did my sense of style. Soon I graduated to pro team jerseys, then to club team jerseys. At each stage, the previous style became rather unhip. As time went on Giordana jerseys seemed more and more like the antidote to PRO. Surely, I didn’t want the cure. At some point I just stopped paying attention.
It was as a result of Competitive Cyclist that I got a heads-up to Giordana’s Body Clone series of clothing. The company had done a lot of work since I last checked in. Rather than attempting to come up with clever sublimated designs, the look of the clothing relied on the use of different colors in different panels so that its look reflected its design. Form followed function. Mies van der Rohe would be pleased.
Learning about the Body Clone line has been something of a relief. Clothing that features advanced design with materials strategically placed according to function while maintaining an understated look has been almost the exclusive domain of Assos. And, as if you hadn’t already come to the conclusion yourself, giving an Assos garment a positive review is almost as likely as finding opium in Afghanistan. It’s about time they had some serious competition.
One of the first things you notice about the FormaRed Carbon jersey and bibs are the garments surprisingly low weight. I’ve got base layers heavier than the jersey and I’ve never felt a lighter set of bibs. With all the talk of lightweight bikes and components, here’s a surprising example of weight cutting that remains practical. The combo of bibs and jerseys weighs just 300g; I’ve got bibs that weigh that much.
Of course, such lightweight garments are specific in their appeal. This stuff is very well ventilated, dog days ventilated. This combo has been my go-to combo for the very hottest weather.
HC44 and Ametista fabrics make up the bib shorts. The 44 in the HC44 material refers to the thread count, which is said to be higher than similar materials while providing a level of compression on a par with materials using coarser fibers. What I can attest to the fabric’s supple feel, making it immensely form fitting while also offering excellent muscle support through compression.
Carbon fibers run through the Ametista material to aid compression. While the seems between the various materials are flat-stitched, the Ametista used in the bibs and Moxie used in the leg cuffs are unfinished at the edges yet doesn’t unravel the way many materials would. The front of the bib is cut very low to make nature calls as easy as possible.
The pad features gel inserts to reduce impact and vibration. What I noticed was comfort I’d associate with much thicker pads, yet a more conforming fit than possible with thick pads. The upshot of these many features is arguably the most comfortable pair of bibs I’ve ever worn.
The gloves are an impressive complement to the jersey and bibs. Pittards leather graces the palm and is combined with minimal padding to make the glove’s fit as accurate as possible. There’s just enough Terry-type material to give a good wipe when you need it and the MCK material breathes well and provides enough stretch to make the closureless fit secure. I’ve become a big fan of closureless gloves; I like the clean appearance they present.
All these features come at a price, of course. Retail for the jersey and bib combo runs $475, though discounters can be found. The gloves fetch another $50. Assos has already staked out this pricing territory; Giordana’s presence gives both companies greater justification for the work they do: one guy in a tree seems crazy, but six guys in a tree makes you curious to see the view.
I spent years all but unwilling to show up to a group ride in anything short of a full team kit. The FormaRed Carbon kit gives the stylish appearance of a coordinated team outfit minus all the sponsor logos. After all, the line between simple and boring is thinner than cellophane. Not many companies can manage that look successfully; fewer still get the look right while nailing fit and, ultimately, comfort.
FormaRed Carbon is to the hot summer day what a hotdog is to a baseball game. The right answer.